What does that really mean?
It means that if you can fit into the one-size-fits-all service that was designed for neurotypical people with an ordinary upbringing and a lifestyle that means you can drop everything and travel to a destination of our choice…
Then, and only then, will we consider you engaged enough to help you.
To everyone else, well, you should have engaged.
That is, of course, only the first step to satisfying the rules of engagement. The next step is that you must interact with us in a way that we would like you to. In a way that we can understand and relate to. In a way that fits our rigid models and frameworks that have been designed around the needs of people like us. That you will be able to cooperate and receive help in a way that suits our narrow outlook and ‘one-size-fits-all’ service.
If you deviate from that, well, that’s not our fault, you should have engaged better.
I wonder if sometimes these rules of engagement are simply another way of rationing services? If you have 100 referrals in a month, and 20 people can’t make it to your clinic you only have to see 80 and your waiting list will be shorter.
Shame about the other 20. Still, if they won’t engage what can we do?
If you only see people in the clinic setting then some argue you can see more people in a day (though there may be evidence to dispute this). Excellent – you don’t even need to see these people to screen them and demonstrate that they don’t ‘meet the criteria’ for onward support. The stats that are collected about your service will look much better – superficially at least. Your manager’s manager will leave your manager alone and focus elsewhere.
Every time “He needs to engage” is said we need to replace it with “How can we help him to engage?”
I feel as though I see this in all areas: education, health and social care. It is easy to conclude that professionals working in these services lack imagination and the effort required to ensure their service reflects the needs of all of those who need it. Where is the advocacy? Why do they not work more flexibly and creatively? These people could be construed as lazy, thoughtless and uncaring. I don’t think, though, as a rule, the majority working in the care industries are lazy, thoughtless or uncaring but I do wonder if they have developed ‘learned helplessness.’
Apparently, this is when “This occurs when a person learns to believe that outcomes are not affected by their behaviour and are thus beyond their control“. In short, when clinicians / teachers / social workers … are practising in a system that is rigid and unsupportive they begin to believe/learn that they can’t make a difference and stop trying. They too become a victim of the system with lowering self-esteem and mood. Many may have tried to rescue the human element of their service and learned that it simply won’t be allowed, or they carry on at huge personal cost and constant criticism from their peers and managers.
We need leaders that can really lead, in the widest sense. Those that will and can challenge and change systems so that they are responsive to the needs of all our community, reflect too the needs of the people working in it and that can ensure that compassion is practised throughout.
In the meantime, it seems to me that those that ‘don’t engage’ will fall seriously by the wayside and the cost in both human and financial terms may be catastrophic.
Still, they should have engaged.